Scientific Archaeology: The Philosophy of Science applied to Archaeology

08 Dec

Here is a paper that I wrote for my senior seminar class (Archaeological theory class at the University of Evansville, IN). If you care about science and/or archaeology you might find it interesting, if not you probably won’t. The goals and content of this paper were constrained by the requirements of the course, so I may put more work into it and make it more like I want it to be in the future. If I do I will also post that here (probably). Here is the link the pdf (via google docs), and bellow is the opening paragraph.

Making archaeology scientific has been a goal of the field for over 100 years, but it was not until Processual archaeology that a systematic and conscious effort was made to reach this goal. This attempt has widely been seen as a failure and the discipline has largely lost hope in the attainability of a scientific archaeology. However, Archaeology needs to take up this goal again and become scientific in order to be considered a legitimate field of study and must adapt the scientific method, particularly hypothesis testing, to fit archaeology if this goal is to be achieved, and thus Processualism failed because it tried to make archaeology fit the perceived ritual of the hard sciences and put too much emphasis on results and not enough on the process and spirit of Science. In order to discuss how a scientific archaeology can be achieved, the definition of scientific must first be determined, and the important and difficulty of making archaeology scientific must be explored. if archaeology is to understand what the next step is to be, the history of past attempts must also be taken into consideration as well as the modern work which has attempted to develop solutions to the lack of scientific hypothesis testing in archaeology.

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Posted by on December 8, 2011 in Uncategorized


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